The commoditization of technology has reached its pinnacle with the advent of the recent paradigm of Cloud Computing. Infosys Cloud Computing blog is a platform to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions with Infosys experts on Cloud Computing

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July 12, 2012

Big Data and the God particle (Higgs Boson)

The July 4th 2012 announcement from CERN on the possible evidence of the existence of the God particle or the Higgs Boson has sent ripples through the physics community. This is not just fundamental to explain the existence of gravity but a validation of the Standard Model of particle physics. It holds the possibility of opening up new frontiers in physics and a new understanding of the world we live in.

While we marvel at these discoveries, our physicist brother-in grapple with trying to understand if this discovery is truly a Higgs Boson or an imposter?  It is however very interesting to look at the magnitude of the data analysis and the distributed computing framework that was required to wade through the massive amounts of data produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The Big Data problem that the scientists at CERN and across the world had to contend with was sifting through over 800 Trillion (you heard that right ...) proton to proton collisions looking for this elusive Higgs Boson.  Additionally this particle has a large mass but is extremely unstable and lasts for less than a billionth of a second.  It cannot be detected directly and is identified through its footprint or the particles that it splits into. This results in over 200 Petabytes of data that needs to be analyzed.

 Right from the beginning CERN had set this up as a distributed cloud based tiered data processing solution. There were three tiers identified T0 being the tier that collects the data directly from LDH, there were 11 T1 nodes across the world getting the data from CERN and a number of T2 nodes (for e.g. there are 8 in the US) based on the areas of the data that particular groups of physicists were interested in analyzing.  From the T2 nodes people could download the data to their personal T3 nodes for analysis. This resulted in a massive highly distributed data processing framework that collects data spewed out by the LHC detectors at a phenomenal rate of 1.25GB/sec. The overall network can rely on a computation capability of over 100,000 processors spread over 130 organization in 34 countries.

From a technology perspective it is interesting that people have used some of the open source technologies that we use for big data processing in enterprises for e.g. the file system with the Hadoop echo system, HDFS (Hadoop Distirbuted File System) was the candidate for storing these massive amounts of data, ROOT another open source tool which is also used by financial institutions as well is used to analyze this data.

It is amazing that the analysis tools used to find the God particle is commonly available to be used by the enterprise to solve smaller Big Data problems.

To paraphrase Galelio "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them and Big Data can help"

July 4, 2012

Can IT now can fully enable business? With Cloud?

In the last twenty years in this industry, I have seen quite a few faces of IT operations in many organizations. From being considered as a back room operation to leading change and business integration. But the truth is, most IT organizations in enterprises are struggling to stay in the front line and constantly battling to find ways of quantifying the "value of IT". This has not been easy to say the least. 


In my view, the two big issues that are contributing to the woes of most IT organizations. They are ..

1.       Time to Market

2.       Innovation


There is no doubt that IT has transformed to be the backbone of all enterprises. Most organizations IT capabilities have evolved and we have done a 'good job' in bringing  the engineering discipline, process, methodologies and more importantly,predictability, in this industry. Now, where has that left IT in any organization. It is considered more often than not a bottleneck in bringing new ideas to the market. Let's look at it from a business leaders standpoint. How many times have we heard " we do not have an environment to start the work, develop and test", " this cannot go into this release cycle", " it is too time consuming to try things out"," We need to have all requirement and design ready" etc. Truth of the matter is that it takes too long to get a business idea from a concept to production. More often than not , IT is the bottleneck. 


It is true that 85 percent of IT budgets world over are to keep the lights on. So where is the room for innovation? Most investments are engaged in keeping lights on and the other 15 to 20 percent is used up in delivering "strategic programs". There is generally no room available to try new ideas or engage in any sort of R&D activity. This has resulted in formation of shadow IT groups outside of then IT depts with limited success and most certainly resulting in a "mess" to be cleaned up. 


I am very excited about the opportunity the Cloud offers. I am also very confident that this can be as big a disruption or an opportunity to IT as the Internet was, or a phenomenon close to heart, the Global Delivery Model. The Cloud offers a bright future for the industry, one in which IT can ensure greater agility, simplicity, scalability, efficiency, innovation, and cost-effectiveness for businesses.  Boy, does it provide enough room! And lots of it. It has the power to address the issue of time to market as well as bring in significant opportunities and construct for innovation.


As I sign off, I would like to leave you all with one thought: The sky is the limit on the Cloud. So What would limit CIOs in leveraging it to it's potential ? More on that in my next blog..



July 2, 2012

The Business Case for Cloud: Opportunity for Transformation

The inevitability of the cloud has led many enterprises to embark on their cloud journeys. However, in transforming their IT and datacenters, enterprises seem to be pushing more of their IT onto private clouds than public clouds.

This trend essentially is driven by the value drawn out of IT investment maximized through the private cloud. Private clouds offer greater stability in terms of localized control, security, and closer adherence standards. Additionally, private clouds make it easy for seamless cloud adoption and set the stage for setting up and managing a hybrid cloud ecosystem as the organization attains scale and is eventually prepared to make this transition. It is important to note that the private cloud is more often than not the first step in an enterprise's journey to cloud adoption.

So the business case for cloud cannot be built on short-term gains of cost but on long-term vision and opportunity of what the cloud as a capability can deliver to the business. The value from cloud is truly transformational in nature, and an excellent example is in the case of our client Ricoh and what we are doing for it in Europe.

Ricoh wanted to essentially create a scalable, flexible, and agile platform for itself and wanted to rationalize its datacenters across Europe while contributing to reducing carbon footprint and energy optimization.


The Ricoh Private Cloud, delivered by the project team comprising Ricoh's and Infosys's cloud experts, is a part of the company's move to centralize its IT infrastructure for all its operations across Europe, with the aim of creating a more efficient IT environment. It is a critical building block in enabling Ricoh employees and clients to access applications and data securely from wherever they are in Europe with any device.

The project is another contributor to Ricoh's overall environmental strategy, where, by 2050, it plans to reduce energy consumption by 87.5 percent. It will remove more than 1,000 servers across EMEA and will result in a reduction of 16.8k tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to emissions from 3,350 cars. For our efforts we were awarded the Green IT award for this project.


So while the truth is that we are helping Ricoh bring down the cost of infrastructure by almost 30 percent, the business impact of contributing to an environmental initiative makes the case of cloud adoption more compelling in the case of Ricoh. Such is the way business cases of cloud need to be built -- be it for infrastructure, platform, applications, or even data on the cloud.